FOR the first time in 30 years, a BJP corporator donned the mayoral crown in Pimpri-Chinchwad as Nitin Kalje (39), a progressive farmer, was elected the ‘first citizen’ in the city, when the new civic general body met for its maiden meeting on Tuesday. Shailaja More, a homemaker and BJP leader, was elected the deputy mayor.
Both Kalje and More were elected unopposed after NCP, the main opposition party, withdrew its candidates from the race. “This morning, we got a request from BJP leaders such as Girsh Bapat, Laxman Jagtap and Mahesh Landge to ensure an unanimous election. As has been the tradition in the PCMC, the NCP agreed to the proposal,” said party leader Yogesh Behl, who has been appointed the NCP’s House leader in PCMC.
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Immediately after he was elected, Kalje faced a flurry a queries from journalists seeking to know his plan of action as the PCMC mayor. “Resolving water problems will be one of my priorities, besides cleanliness and sanitation,” he said.
When asked how he was going to handle the Pavana pipeline controversy, Kalje said he would make efforts to bring all stakeholders together to resolve the problem.
Kalje, a second-time corporator fondly addressed as appa in Kaljevasti, Charholi and nearby areas, belongs to MLA Mahesh Landge’s faction in the BJP.
On Tuesday, a large number of supporters had gathered at the PCMC headquarters to celebrate Kalje’s election. His parents were among the surging crowd, and they waited anxiously outside the PCMC’s general body hall to catch a glimpse of their son in mayoral robes.
Soon after they spotted him, the mayor’s mother Parvati Kalje said,”My son is a heera (a diamond)… he has not taken one false step in his life. I knew one day he would make it big…” His father Pratap Kalje echoed his wife’s sentiments.
BJP general secretary Babu Nair said this was the first time in the 30-year history of the PCMC that both the mayor and the deputy mayor were from the BJP, not from the Congress or the NCP.
“The first mayor, Dnanyeshwar Landge, was from the Congress. The Congress ruled PCMC initially and then the NCP was in charge of the civic body. But the BJP and the Shiv Sena have never ruled the PCMC,” he said.
While the BJP has 77 corporators in the 128-member House, the NCP has 36.